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688 megapixel aerial 360 photo with Mavic Air 2 – here’s how

Mavic Air 2 captures 688mp aerial 360 photo
Mavic Air 2 captures 688mp aerial 360 photo

It turns out that the Mavic Air 2 can capture aerial 360 photos of up to 688 megapixels!  Here’s how.

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about Mavic Air 2 being able to capture 200 megapixel aerial 360 photos by turning on the option to capture the individual photos rather than having them stitched by the MA2.

Now, Michael, a reader, showed me an insanely detailed aerial 360 photo from the Mavic Air 2, with 688 mp.  Here is the 360 photo.

HOW TO GET 688MP WITH THE MAVIC AIR 2

To get this resolution, Michael simply shot a manual 360 panorama.  In other words, he took photos with the Mavic Air 2 in 48mp mode, manually rotating the Mavic.  It sounds difficult but actually it is not THAT hard.  Here’s how:  You take a photo, rotate it until you see around 1/3 or 1/4 overlap (use the grid overlay as a guide), take another photo, etc.  When you reach a full circle, tilt down, repeat.  Tilt down again and repeat until you have captured all the photos.  You’ll then need to stitch the photos together using a 3rd party stitcher such as PTGui.

With incredibly detailed photos like this and very good dynamic range, it looks like Mavic Air 2 is one of the best drones for aerial 360 photos and could be a very useful addition to virtual tour services.  I hope that in the future, Litchi will support 360 photos with the Mavic Air 2 with 48mp so that this high resolution capture process can be automated.

WHERE TO BUY

The Mavic Air 2 is available for $799 from B&H PhotoAmazon or direct from DJI, or $988 for the Fly More Combo with three batteries and other accessories (B&H PhotoAmazondirect from DJI).  The batteries are around $115 each, so the Fly More Combo seems to be a good deal.  Thank you for using these links to support 360 Rumors at no additional cost to you so I can do more tests and reviews.

About the author

Mic Ty

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  • That photo is amazing – much nicer than anything I have been able to do with my Mavic Pro. Can you post some details about the camera settings used and the processing method?

      • Hello, Steve. This pano is totally unprocessed. Before anybody makes any further comments about the Mavic Air’s “48MP”, I give following info:
        – I am totally aware that the drone’s sensor is not an “old-school real 48MP”. Its pixel count is 12MP, but due to its Bayer Filter ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bayer_filter ) the final resolution is 48MP. Some call it upscaling. It’s not upscaling in the real sense. Also it’s not 48MP in the real sense. It’s somewhere between. Anyway, the 688MP pano has much more detail than the 193MP pano, and it’s way over the need of most panographers.
        – although in 12MP mode, due to the same Bayer Filter, the image contains extraordinary dynamic range, even in 48MP mode there is plenty of data in the pics. Saving them as RAW with low ISO permits great editing in Lightroom or other preffered image editors
        – This pano was directly stitched in PTGui, without transforming the raws to jpg or applying any other postproc. As known, images shot by newest DJI drones tend to be maybe too vivid for some tastes.
        – The camera setting was simple the 48MP image. It’s the one and only setting to shoot in this resolution.
        – Time to shoot the pano (in this manual mode) is ±5 min. I shot 8×3+1 8x(+24′, -22′, -60′)+1×90′

        • Many thanks for the detailed reply and the magnificent pano. This really makes me want to upgrade to the MA2. I am amazed that you didn’t need stacked images for the HDR effect.While I realize the Bayer Filter is not giving the “true” 688MP resolution, the added pixels really do allow for a much more impressive Zoom effect that I have ever been able to achieve, especially with a 25 shot array. Looks like your technique combined with the viewer your are using (is that KRPano?) sets a new quality standard for us to shoot for.

          • Steve, the player is 3dVista, as I got lazy and like GUI’s more than writing XML with Krpano for my tours.
            I have other examples, like for example the (still unfinished) http://vr.go360.lu/terresrouge where you can find also interior panos where light is coming in through the windows. Still looks very decent.
            To patch the zenith (top), there are two possibilities:
            – shoot a pic with the DSLR, the drone itself held in hand or with the phone. I preffer making a pic with the Iphone 11 Pro ultra wide if I am able to shoot from directly below the position of the drone and the shot was not made from very high above.
            – ride the drone with a 360 camera, on a perfectly printed adapter. Of course, the resolution of that portion will be lower, but in the tour in the link above I used this technique. I didn’t retouch it perfectly yet. The adapter you can find here: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:4375974 Don’t fear that the drone might not be able to carry the load, the Mavic Air 2 seems to have the best ratio own weight : payload ( https://dronedj.com/2020/06/01/dji-mavic-air-2-can-lift-a-lot-more-than-its-body-weight/ )

            The detail is more than decent, the sharpness is there, the dynamic range is just enough for people not to be able to create those ugly surreal HDRs 🙂

            Btw, if even more dynamic range is needed, I tested another workaround: Super-HDR with the Mavic Air 2: With the same manual shooting technique like 48MP pics, you shoot in AEB mode (5 bracketed frames at 0.7 EV Bias). This I used rather for some hybrid panos. For example aerials in sunset. I shoot with the 193MP-technique (automated shooting at 12MP raws) and then I go to +24 degrees and shoot the sky all around with AEB, to be sure the sun has all the dynamic range and doesn’t appear as an ugly spot.

        • The bayer filter has no effect on the number of pixels. If you remove the bayer filter you will have more fine detail at the cost of not being able to reproduce color and have only black and white. An exception would be shooting multiple images with pixel shift technology: but that requires a super static camera which obviously is not going to be on a drone. So, 12mpx is 12 mpx. Dynamic range is based on sensor site size and bit depth. most sensors have a 12-14 bit depth which is sometimes upsampled. 16 bit depth is pretty much a medium format thing. Back illuminated sensors may have superior dynamic range. stacking multiple exposures can simulate greater dynamic range: but there are issues with this technique as well. Witness the rather artificial high dynamic range pictures that are so common nowadays.

  • There are bad stitching errors in that 688MP 360, and some pretty obvious manual clone stamping. Don’t know what had to be corrected, but it was a poor attempt. Wish I could attach a detail image in order to point that out.